Pain and Photo-shopped Beach Bodies
By David Martin, RN, CEO, VeinInnovations
“The Ultimate Beach Body Workout” headlines are screaming at us from the slick magazines at coffee shop newsstands and grocery store checkout lanes. What’s inside those pages?
Increasing media pressure to get thin is almost as good an indicator of warm weather as the scent of barbecue wafting through the pines. Winter holidays centered on family and feasting helped us pile on an extra pound or two or more. Now, with sweater weather waning, our cover is blown. Spring and summer heat forces us to reveal reality. Fear of the beach forces many of us to jump into a crash diet or a masochistic exercise regimen, leading to pulled muscles, binge eating, and a shopping trip for a better bathing suit cover up. To make exercise and healthy eating work, moderation is key. Always.
A troubling tendency of those in a hurry to get fit is to push through the pain, heeding that outdated adage, “No pain, no gain.” There’s a distinct difference in using your last ounce of resolve to sprint at the end of your race and ignoring an aching joint in your knee so you don’t miss a morning run. You know your body. It’s there with you through everything from the winter nights spent on the couch to boot camp on a summer morning. Know the difference between good pain (the kind you can safely push through) and bad pain (your body’s way of saying “STOP or you’ll pay later” when it needs attention and a break.)
After a workout, good pain is indicated when there’s a general feeling of mild soreness throughout your body. That’s the best kind of tired. After a cool down and a shower, you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep. The kind of pain that is not healthy? If you feel pain in a specific place after a workout (be it your knees, shoulder, or back) care for yourself now and don’t push it next workout. You’ve overdone it. And overdoing it is just the excuse many people use to stop working out altogether.
To avoid the debilitating injury that can sabotage your entire exercise program, think this way: Did your arm muscles start to burn while you did pushups? That heat is good pain and should dissipate soon after you finish your set. You might even be ready for another ten after your break! If, however, your shoulder feels pinched during your pushups? Hurts after you’ve stopped? Then don’t try that next set.
Have you started taking runs around Chastain Park in the morning? You should feel tired and ready for a drink of water when you’ve finished the loop. Pushing past your fatigue to finish that last mile helps you get faster and stronger. If your knees are aching or your leg muscles feel as tight as rubber bands, you went past the point of healthy and veered into foolhardy.
I mention running in this list of good pain/bad pain because runners are trained to keep going. Mental tenacity is vital for a marathon runner. They’re aren’t many people who see mile 18 come and go and can still keep the pace until the end of mile 26. The same mental tenacity that keeps runners going until the finish line is the same mindset that sometimes keeps them from acknowledging their body’s needs.
Remember that a small problem — like symptoms indicating the beginning of shin splints — can be treated easily when caught early on. Little problems won’t force you onto the sidelines, but ignoring them sure can!
When magazine and television stories send messages that we’re not good enough, it’s hard not to feel pressured. Maybe it is a good goal for you to get in shape. But remember, the women and men on the magazine covers have been photo shopped. Be realistic about the goals for your body. By all means, use the warm summer weather to get outside and get exercising. Just listen to what your body tells you so you can enjoy the whole season and not just the first three weeks!
Tune into the Dana Barrett Show’s Vital Edge segment on Biz1190 a.m. on Wednesday, April 13, at 9 a.m. to hear Seth Yellin, MD, of Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center, talk about innovative procedures to help men and women alike achieve a younger look, and feel more confident as today’s forty, fifty, and sixty year olds will be in the workplace longer, and want to look younger longer!
Tune in the following Wednesday (April 20) at 9 a.m. to hear more about accepting ourselves and making the healthy changes that make a difference. Paul Cox, MD, will talk about how the myriad life changes that come about each May — graduations and the resulting “empty nest syndrome”, upcoming weddings, long-awaited family vacations — add stress that can really tax menopausal women, men with low testosterone, and marriages.